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Archive for Friday, August 4, 2006

Sitcom audiences shrinking

August 4, 2006

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This seems to be the summer that "edgy" talent tries to reinvent the sitcom. Things kicked off with the foul-mouthed HBO offering "Lucky Louie."

Now Laura Kightlinger, who also appears on "Lucky," gets her own crack at the sitcom. "The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman" (10 p.m., IFC) follows the shenanigans of two not-so-successful best friends at the bottom of Hollywood's pecking order.

Jackie (Kightlinger) works as a writer at a celebrity magazine, and her best friend, Tara (Nicholle Tom), a flunky at a film production company, careen around Hollywood trying to "make it" and meeting self-absorbed entertainment-industry types along the way. Andy Dick cameos as himself next week.

In tonight's episode, the gals get into a car accident with movie star Sally Kellerman. Jackie thinks she could make a swell magazine profile, but Kellerman has other ideas. She wants to induct them into her cult. And with the impressionable Tara, she almost succeeds.

For all of its low-wattage Hollywood glitz, "Minor" is really about friendship. In many ways it's trying to be "Laverne & Shirley" with bold-faced names. And that in itself is slightly pathetic.

Time was, we enjoyed shows about average people who happened to be lovable knuckleheads. Now, everybody has to be in show business. HBO's "Entourage" would be nothing without the breezy banter between dim bulbs, but can you image the show ever being produced if its characters never left Queens, N.Y., for Hollywood?

Are we so obsessed with show business that we can believe or laugh only at characters who have agents and production deals? Or are the creators of these shows incapable of imagining a world outside of their own? I believe the answer is obvious, and it's reflected in the shrinking viewership of these comedies.

For all of the hype, "Entourage" does not have a very big audience. If "Entourage" were a network show, it would be canceled immediately. Not because of its wit and "edginess" but for lack of viewer interest.

¢ When Flower the tough matriarch gives birth to a new litter, the hapless males left in charge of the den prove careless and put the family in danger on "Meerkat Manor" (7 p.m., Animal Planet).

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Repeats of "Eureka" (6 p.m., Sci Fi) will air on Fridays through September.

¢ A terror team has a surprising target on "NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS).

¢ Steve Martin, Queen Latifah and Eugene Levy star in the 2003 comedy "Bringing Down the House" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Bob's secret cover evaporates on "The Unit" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ A grateful woman (Jamie Pressly) wants to thank Ed personally for saving her father on "Las Vegas" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ A violent storm brings on a flood of memories on "Kyle XY" (8 p.m., ABC).

¢ Adrian contemplates private practice on "Monk" (8 p.m., USA).

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